Monday, August 29, 2016

Parenting Center Gets $500,000 Grant

The Pervasive Parenting Center (PPC) recently received a $500,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Education Office of Special Education and Rehabilitation Services. The grant names the center as a new Community Parent Resource Center (CPRC). This will mean an increase in services for people with disabilities in eastern Oklahoma.

“My hope is that this grant will open many doors for families in this area of the state living with disabilities,” said Kodey Toney, center director. “I’ve been working for the past two and a half years in my spare time to advocate for families, and this will allow me to pursue advocacy full-time. It will also allow (the center) to open up some key programs in the area.”

The grant will provide $100,000 per year for five years. This money will be used to provide salaries for the director as well as a part-time guidance specialist.

“We were already serving LeFlore, Sequoyah, and Haskell counties,” said Toney. “We wrote into the grant that we will extend services to Latimer County as well, although we will help anyone who calls regardless of location.”

The center began with an idea from Toney and his wife.

“My son Konner was diagnosed with autism in 2007 at the age of three,” said Toney. “I really began advocating for him then, but as I was advocating for him I realized that other people in this area could benefit from the things my wife and I were learning. So in 2013 we decided that we needed to start a non-profit organization to help provide more resources to this area.

“Thanks to the tremendous support from everyone in this area we have grown so fast. I knew we needed something to help bring more resources, but I didn’t realize what a need there was. I think that is why it has done so well because of the necessity.”

In the past the center has provided many services in the area. These include purchasing equipment for children with disabilities. They have also provided training to families, caregivers, professionals, law enforcement, and educators. They have worked to bring in resources to the area including conferences and workshops. They provide parent support group meetings and Sibshops, and have provided scholarships for people with disabilities going into post-secondary education.

Toney said the PPC will continue to provide those services while working with local, state, and federal organizations to draw in the resources necessary for the rural, under-served area of the state.

In addition to the current services the center will implement three new programs within the next five years. These programs are focused on helping build community involvement and better education services at all stages of a child’s education. There are programs designed to help from early childhood to transition, post-secondary and beyond.

A new peer mentoring program will be developed to help local schools provide inclusion into the classroom and other school programs. While still in the development stage, the program will help children with disabilities better interact with their peers in the school environment. This will help those without disabilities better understand their peers. It will also help those with disabilities understand social cues and work on social interaction.

A tutoring aspect of the grant will be implemented in the next five years as well. This will primarily target dyslexia, but will also assist other learning disabilities. The grant allows the center to provide the services of higher trained educators in the area.

The third program will focus on transition with a social group. The group will be designed to help students in middle and high school better prepare for transition out of secondary education and into post-secondary school, technical school, or the working world. It will focus on aspects of etiquette in the public setting.

“We are honored to have been named one of the newest Community Parent Resource Centers,” said Toney. “There are less than 30 in the U.S. and we are the only one in Oklahoma.”

The grant will also allow the center to have a physical location. PPC will be housed at Carl Albert State College in Poteau.

“For almost three years we have been working out of my house and vehicle, so it’s nice to have a place where people can physically go to receive help and resources,” said Toney.

The grant will be implemented and the center will open full-time beginning Oct. 1. Anyone in need assistance before then may contact Kodey Toney @ 918-658-5076 or

The new position means Toney will be leaving his post as a guidance counselor for the Education Talent Search Program at Carl Albert State College, where he has been for almost 13 years.

“It’s bittersweet,” Toney said Monday, “but I’m looking forward to the new program, and I’ll be working out of the Sallisaw campus as much as I can.”

Sally Maxwell, Senior News Director

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